Boogie on the brig

Commodore Perry

Commodore Perry looks ahead to the disco era.

We had just spent a couple of hours in the Erie Maritime Museum, immersed in the War of 1812. On our way out we bought a wooden Christmas tree decoration of the U.S. Brig Niagara – hey, it was cute – and were looking at some displays in the lobby when a statuette caught our attention.

In another time, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s pose would have been inspiring and heroic, his hand thrust high and forward, index finger pointing in grand defiance of the British navy.

But my wife, Mary, and I saw a natty dresser caught in mid-motion on the disco dance floor, stayin’ alive a la John Travolta. I had to snap a photo so you could appreciate it.

“We have met the enemy,” the hero of the Battle of Lake Erie seems to be saying, “and they should be dancing, yeah!” (My stepdaughter Teresa, who hadn’t even been born when “Saturday Night Fever” hit theaters, came up with that line.)

Our trip to Erie came on the front end of a five-day loop around Pennsylvania that would also land us in Pittsburgh and at the French and Indian War sites to the south and east – Braddock’s grave, Jumonville Glen, and Fort Necessity.

We missed seeing the Brig Niagara in Erie because it was in Chicago. But just so you know, it’ll be back in Erie this week for a four-day festival of tall ships marking the 200th anniversary of Perry’s Sept. 10, 1813, naval victory over the Brits – a battle he won from the deck of the Niagara.

Sorry we’ll miss that. Beyond the spectacle of tall ships on Presque Isle Bay, there will be dozens of vendors, kids’ activities, a beer garden and live music – but probably nothing like disco duck.






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